Lodi goal not enough for lacklustre Rojiblancos
Renan Lodi opened his LaLiga account, but his goal was not enough to claim the points as Atletico Madrid were held by Granada.
Atletico Madrid lost ground on LaLiga leaders Barcelona as German Sanchez's header saw Granada, who had coach Diego Martinez sent off, fight back to claim a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Renan Lodi's first Atleti goal had put Diego Simeone's side ahead an hour in at Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes, sparking into life what had previously been a drab encounter.
Jan Oblak was called into action to deny Granada an opener midway through the first half, but - after the home team's coach received his marching orders - Atleti's goalkeeper could do little to prevent German finding the net.
With Barca rallying to beat Leganes earlier on Saturday, Atletico needed a victory to remain within a point of the pacesetters, yet two missed chances from Alvaro Morata cost them as they were unable to claim the spoils.
1 - No side has scored more goals from set-pieces than Granada in @LaLigaEN this season (10, level with Barcelona). Indeed, no side has scored more goals from corners than Granada (five). Strategy. pic.twitter.com/MwvI8M0yJA— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 23, 2019
Angel Correa was inches away from nudging Atleti ahead in the third minute but could not stretch far enough to connect with Vitolo's deflected shot across the face of goal.
It took Granada 27 minutes to test Oblak, though the visiting keeper had to react sharply to get down to Antonio Puertas' effort.
Vitolo and Correa combined after the restart, only for the latter to pull a first-time shot wide. Left-back Lodi - who has made a fine start to life at Atleti - made no mistake, however, keeping his cool to slot under goalkeeper Rui Silva.
Maxime Gonalons received a booking for his part in a tussle with Morata soon after, with Martinez then sent to the stands.
However, Granada used their frustrations to spur them on, German getting the better of Kieran Trippier to nod in from Angel Montoro's corner.
Morata failed to keep a header from six yards out on target and the former Chelsea striker then blazed over from Lodi's cutback, while substitute Dario Poveda failed to tuck home amid a goalmouth scramble as Atleti were held to a seventh league draw of the campaign.
What does it mean? Labouring Atleti look toothless
Joao Felix's return off the bench is a timely boost for Simeone, but with Diego Costa - who has struggled for form anyway - out for up to three months, Atleti's options up front look limited heading into a hectic stage of the season.
Without Antoine Griezmann to fall back on these days, the Atletico boss needs his available forwards to sharpen up if they want to keep pace with Barca and Real Madrid in the title race.
Lodi loving life in LaLiga
Full-back Lodi was left out for the 3-1 win against Espanyol last time out, but the 21-year-old marked his return to the starting XI in style with a well-taken goal, while he was also unlucky not to have an assist when he teed up Morata late on.
Morata's scoring streak ends
Morata had scored in each of his last six games for Atleti heading into Saturday's encounter, though seemed to have lost his shooting boots this time around. After sending a header over from point-blank range, he skied over another fantastic opening with 10 minutes to go.
Atleti make the trip to Turin to face Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Granada have to wait until next Sunday to take on Athletic Bilbao in their next league outing.
- Journalist at JJA Sport Studio: Football / Soccer
- Leader columnist department